2 illegal immigrants accused of taking Southern California boy

Posted: 05/18/2009 06:42:10 PM PDT
Updated: 05/18/2009 06:42:12 PM PDT

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) — Arrest warrants have been issued for two illegal immigrants suspected of bursting into a family's home and kidnapping a 3-year-old who was later found wandering the streets in Mexico, authorities said Monday.

The suspects, both believed to be hiding in Mexico, are accused of taking Briant Rodriguez on May 3 after tying up his mother and four of his siblings. No motive has been released.

Authorities said they found evidence at the crime scene that links Israel Ledesma Moreno, 27, and Liberato Vega, 30, to the kidnapping. State and federal warrants were issued against both men, who were in the country illegally and have a history of minor crimes in Southern California, FBI and San Bernardino County sheriff's officials said.

Sheriff's Sgt. Dave Phelps declined to comment on whether the men knew Briant's family.

Mexican authorities found Briant wandering the streets of Mexicali and contacted U.S. authorities, who brought him back across the border and reunited him with his mother on Saturday.

Phelps said the boy was mildly malnourished and remained in the hospital Monday for observation.

Officials said they also want to interview Vega's girlfriend, 21-year-old Claudia Acosta-Serrano.

Vega and Moreno have been arrested in recent years for several alleged offenses, including drunken driving, drug use, driving with a suspended license and lying to police. The FBI said the pair had also been charged with fleeing California to avoid state charges and had previously been deported.

Detectives had few leads on the kidnapping until a surveillance camera from a store showed the suspect's faces the day Briant was kidnapped from his home in a lower-income area near the city of San Bernardino, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles.